Do I need dancing shoes?
Perhaps not to start with, but in the longer term that’s a definite “yes”!
For a dancer, the quality of contact with the dance floor is vital, just as vital as for a golfer, a runner, or a rugby player (and any number of other sports). A proper dancing shoe has a chamois (or similar) sole which provides just the right amount of slip and grip on a polished wooden floor. Try to twist over a foot shod in rubber, and you will damage your knees. Leather soles will slide out from under you, and you will end up in a heap.
Dancing shoes are also lighter and more flexible than normal footwear. They allow your foot to flex, allow you to feel where the floor is and not land with a thump, and are not so damaging to your partner if you tread on them or kick them! If you have never tried dancing in proper shoes, you will be amazed how much easier it becomes.
Having dancing shoes means you are not so tempted to wear your outdoor shoes straight onto the dance floor. Doing so brings dust, grit, and damp onto the floor – a considerable disservice to your fellow dancers. And it goes without saying you don’t wear your dancing shoes outdoors!
That is not to say you should buy dancing shoes before you know whether you enjoy dancing and intend to carry on with it, but bear in mind that when you do decide to invest it will make your dancing more enjoyable still, and in the mean time try to respect the other dancers and avoid trailing muck onto the floor.
Is it “sissy” to be seen in dancing shoes? ‘Course not. Women’s shoes are as pretty as any other, and men’s shoes can look as normal as you like. Is it sissy to be seen in running shoes when running? No. Would you be allowed on a golf course without the appropriate shoes? No. Are dancing shoes expensive? No more expensive than keeping a normal pair of shoes in reserve for dancing. Women, in particular, might like to look at the Topline range for economical social dancing shoes.
Sometimes a dance floor will be found to be too slippery. The better a dancer you become, the more slippery you will like it, but sometimes it is too much even then. Chamois soles can be roughed up with a very stiff wire brush (sold for the purpose) to increase the grip. If a floor is too grippy, an older pair of shoes with smoothed off soles can help. What we do not allow is the use of any substances to affect the floor – what might suit you won’t necessarily suit other dancers and could become a hazard.